Wiggins kept mum to avoid controversy

LONDON • Bradley Wiggins has admitted that he was aware there was a taboo surrounding the use of the corticosteroid he was given before three key races but says that he did not make his pollen allergy public because he was "paranoid" about making excuses.

The British cyclist obtained a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for triamcinolone before the 2011 and 2012 Tour de France and the 2013 Giro d'Italia, but this only became public after the details were leaked by Russian hackers.

That has stirred up controversy, with other cycling teams calling for the use of such drugs in races being banned completely, even with a TUE. They believe that using such a powerful drug for preventative purposes is unethical and should be against the rules for TUEs.

The five-time Olympic gold medallist, who won the Tour de France in 2012, told The Guardian that he was aware that riders had abused triamcinolone in the past but taking it had not worried him.

Wiggins said: "I was fully aware of this drug and the taboo surrounding it all... the misuse and the abuse of this drug in the past. It was for a very specific thing to treat something that was historically a problem for me and could be quite a serious problem for me.

"I'd become a potential favourite for the Tour de France, or certainly to get on the podium. I'd returned to the form I was in in 2009 and the only thing that could really stop me from achieving that was if I struggled with allergies during the race. It happens."

Questions have been raised over Wiggins' failure to mention his allergy, or the TUEs, in his book covering his Tour de France win, but he defended his reasons for not doing so.

The 36-year-old said: "I was paranoid about making excuses, 'Ah, my allergies have kicked in'. I'd learnt to live with this thing. It wasn't something I was going to shout from the rooftops and use as an excuse and say, 'My allergies have started off again'. That's convenient isn't it Brad, your allergies started when you got dropped.

"I didn't mention it in the book. I'd come off a season (in which) I'd won everything that year. When I was writing the book I wasn't sat there thinking, 'I'd better bring my allergies up.' I was flying on cloud nine."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 02, 2016, with the headline 'Wiggins kept mum to avoid controversy'. Print Edition | Subscribe